Officials hope to raise $50,000 this month to get started on renovations to the basketball court in Coral Bay, above.
With an initial $5,000 donation already secured, Rotary Club of St. John members are hoping renovations to the dilapidated Coral Bay basketball court move more quickly than the eight years it took get an agreement to allow work on the land.
Rotary Club member and Coral Bay Community Council President Sharon Coldren helped to hammer out an agreement between the Moravian Church Virgin Islands Conference, which owns the property, T-Rex St. John LLC, which has a long-term lease for the property, and Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation which will oversee the project.
The agreement is the culmination of years of work, dating back to 2005 when it was agreed that funds from that year’s Coral Bay Yacht Club Flotilla fundraiser would be used to refurbish the court, Coldren explained.
“CBCC has been working on this since 2005 when we had agreed to spend that year’s flotilla money to fix up the basketball court for the children of the school,” said Coldren. “We were literally at the point of executing the contract with the resurfacer when I got a phone call from T-Rex’s attorney telling us we couldn’t do it.”
“The community was ready to do these repairs back then and at that time it wouldn’t have cost as much money because it wasn’t in such bad shape,” she said. “There was a liability issue. It was fine for people to use the court in horrible shape, but we couldn’t fix it.”
Now, instead of costing between $15,000 to $20,000, the project will cost between $40,000 and $50,000, Coldren explained.
Planned renovations include resurfacing the court and the driveway, installing new baskets, repairing some fencing and installing new fencing and fixing the bleachers, according to Coldren.
Lights on the court were recently installed thanks to a federal LED lighting grant last summer, the CBCC president added.
“The lights were redone under a federal grant this summer so that’s an expense that is already done,” she said. “We’ll put a timer on the lights and try to get some smaller amenities too.”
The agreement allowing the renovations is between the Moravian Church Virgin Islands Conference and the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation, which is the government agency taking over management of the court, while the local Rotary Club is funding the project, Coldren explained.
“The Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation will manage the area, has agreed to continue to maintain it and has essentially taken over the liability,” said the CBCC President. “It notes in the agreement that Rotary Club is spending the money.”
The agreement is also an interim agreement, Coldren added.
“As we all know, the developers have a 99 year lease for the land and the basketball court happens to be on part of that land,” she said. “This agreement, as we understand it, is the interim location of the basketball court and in the agreement we understand that T-Rex is obligated to build another basketball court in another location prior to any kind of demolition of this court.”
There will be no government funds used for this project, and Rotary officials will ask T-Rex St. John LLC and Moravian Church Virgin Islands Conference officials to donate to the project, Coldren explained.
“Rotary will be asking T-Rex and all potential developers that we know of in Coral Bay to step up with generous donations,” she said. “Rotary will also be asking the Moravian Church Conference and some of their lead members to step up with donations as well.”
And with the years it has taken just to get to this point, Coldren hopes to raise the $50,000 needed by the end of April.
“It’s terrible that the court has been in such awful shape for years no and we’re hoping we get moving on this quickly,” she said. “Since the community has been working to get an agreement to be able to fix this court for eight years, we would really like it if those in our community who can help would make the fund raising very easy. We’d like the funds in place in 30 days so we can get moving on this.”
The first donation to the project has been pledged by a Coral Bay homeowner, and former basketball player himself, Daniel Kane.
“Someone had to do something,” said Kane. “Some of this goes back to when I was a kid; we always had a basketball court and it was a great place to go hang out. I played all growing up and all through high school and into college.”
“Basketball is a fabulous sport,” Kane said. “It teaches kids more than just basketball. Like how to get along with people and how important team building is.”
The current state of the Coral Bay basketball court, with nets missing from the baskets and bleachers falling down, needs to be improved, Kane added.
“I’ve shot baskets down at the court here and it’s just in terrible shape,” he said. “What was done in Cruz Bay was great and when I heard they could do the same thing out here, I said I would support it. Hopefully people follow my lead.”
The basketball court is even more important in Coral Bay because it is the sole sports facility in the area, Kane added.
“This is the only sports facility for children in Coral Bay,” he said “The notion of a vibrant, healthy community starts with the young and it’s good to drive by the court at night and see kids shooting around. We need to have a healthy environment for the kids.”
In addition to raising $50,000, Coldren also hopes to entice local contractors to help with the project, she added.
“Once the funding is in place we’re hoping that one or more of our lead contractors will volunteer their time this summer to do things like build the bleachers,” Coldren said. “The actual physical labor of putting in the fences and the bleachers is not much and we’re confident that local contractors will step up and donate the time we need once we get the money to buy the materials.”
Kane and his wife Theresa have pledged $5,000 to the project and if the rest of the funds come through as expected, the project could be completed this summer, Coldren explained.
“We could have the project done no later than September,” she said. “It depends on how quickly we can raise the funds.”
Residents can make tax deductible donations to the Coral Bay basketball court renovations through the local Rotary Club. Checks should be payable to “Rotary Club of St. John Foundation” with “Coral Bay basketball court” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Rotary Club of St. John, P.O. Box 710, St. John, VI, 00831; or dropped off at the CBCC office.